Europeans Get a Feel for Monmouth Park Surfaces

European hopefuls for the Breeders' Cup World Championships took to the main track and turf course at Monmouth Park Oct. 23.

Two of the 14 European contenders for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships failed to get into the final line-up Oct. 23, but the connections of 2-year-olds Annie Skates and Joffe’s Run had been expecting disappointment in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), which had no defections.

Joffe’s Run was one of the six European horses in the quarantine barn at Monmouth Park to take the opportunity the morning of Oct. 23 to do some exercise on either the main track or the turf course after they cleared quarantine. The others were Red Rocks, set to defend his John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) title; Irish raider Timarwa (grade I Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf); NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) hope Jeremy; and the Jeremy Noseda-trained pair Simply Perfect (Filly & Mare Turf) and Strike the Deal (Juvenile Turf).

Clare Dale, representing British-based trainer Brian Meehan, reported that both Red Rocks, looking very fit, and Joffe’s Run, likely to run in the Oct. 26 Epitome Stakes at Monmouth, had settled in fine.

“Both are very well and they traveled without incident,” Dale said. “We are very happy with both of them. Red Rocks trotted around the main track to stretch his legs and the filly did the same.”

Red Rocks, with work rider Steve Radley up, went out at about 7:30 a.m. EDT, with Joffe’s Run following his example 90 minutes later. The earliest risers among the raiders were Simply Perfect and Strike the Deal, who were returned to quarantine barn at 7:40 a.m. after jogging on the main track.

Three-year-old Simply Perfect, on her toes and sweating, was in sharp contrast to her year-younger stable companion, who looked gleaming and composed.

Leslie Simpson, Simply Perfect’s work rider, reported her behavior to be usual. “That is her,” Simpson said. “She is keen, but if she did not get like that, you would worry. It was good to get her out on the track. She did a lot of looking around with so much going on but she was relaxed enough. She has only raced in group-one company this season and is a tough sort.”

Joe Scally is a man with a good Breeders’ Cup pedigree, having looked after the Noseda-trained Wilko, successful at long odds in the 2004 Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile(gr. I) at Lone Star Park.

“Strike the Deal reminded me today of Wilko--he was so professional out there,” Scally said. “He won a small race at Lingfield first time out and has gone on to perform in group race after group race. He is tough and has got a bit of speed. I think this tight track will suit him, and he will be able to lay up with the others.

“He stayed on well in the Middle Park (Eng-I at six furlongs), and the jockey came in and said he will definitely get (more ground), so the mile should not be a problem.”

The John Oxx-trained Timarwa and Jeremy, from Michael Stoute’s stable, did a circuit of the turf course just after 9:30 a.m. Jimmy O’Neill rode the Timarwa and said he was pleased with the state of the Monmouth turf course.

“We went for a look-around rather than exercise,” O’Neill said. “It is super turf at the moment, a bit faster than we are used to but with a good cushion of grass.”

No French runners have come this year but Aidan O’Brien’s high-profile team of five, including George Washington (grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge), Dylan Thomas (Turf), and Excellent Art (Mile), were due to arrive from Ireland the evening of Oct. 23, with the trainer coming to Monmouth Oct. 24.